The Los Angeles Angels have agreed to a contract with Tim Lincecum, which means all eyes are on Matt Shoemaker to see if he can keep his spot in the rotation.
The Los Angeles Angels can blame injuries, but Matt Shoemaker can’t.
A lot can change in a year and a half.
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It doesn’t seem that long ago that Shoemaker was a star in the making. In 2014, he went 16-4 with a 3.04 ERA in 20 starts.
Eleven of those 20 starts were considered quality starts and his 8.21 strikeouts per nine innings were second among starters on the Angels staff behind only Garrett Richards.
But this year, as injuries to the rotation have added up, Shoemaker has done more harm than good.
His ERA is a team-high 8.49 and his -1.2 WAR is the worst among all Angels pitchers. In seven starts, only two have been of quality and his five losses are also the most on the Halos.
He has only pitched into the sixth inning twice, and his longest outing of the year was 6 1/3, which has put too much pressure on an already tired bullpen.
In short, in a year the Angels needed Shoemaker to return to his rookie form, he is blowing what may have been his last chance to be a starter on the Halos.
- Hector Santiago (3-2, 3.42 ERA)
- Shoemaker (2-5, 8.49 ERA)
- Jered Weaver (3-3, 5.76 ERA)
- Nick Tropeano (2-2, 3.30 ERA)
- Jhoulys Chacin (0-0, 5.21 ERA)
Congratulations if you correctly predicted that “Fab 5” when the season started, go buy yourself a lottery ticket while you’re at it.
An eight-year veteran, Chacin is only owed $1.1 million this season and pitched well against the Seattle Mariners in his Angels debut, so the short-term goal is to keep him in the rotation as long as he is producing.
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That move already put some pressure on Shoemaker’s job, but the difference maker is that the team signed former two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum to a one-year, $2.5 million contract on Thursday.
The deal came just a few days removed from Lincecum’s 41-pitch showcase in Scottsdale, Ariz., in which several teams observed the veteran, who hasn’t pitched in the Bigs since June 27 of last years because of hip deterioration.
Lincecum, looking to show that he is still a commodity at the Major League level, chose the Angels over the San Francisco Giants (with whom he had spent his entire career) and the surprising Chicago White Sox, who’s 25 wins are the most in the American League.
It’s going to be a little bit of time before Lincecum is inserted into the rotation, but it would make the most sense to insert him into Shoemaker’s spot.
Wilson and Heaney may be healthy next month which is going to make the rotation crowded again but it’s highly unlikely Shoemaker is considered to be in it at this point.
In the meantime, he is expected to start on Saturday at home against the red-hot Baltimore Orioles, who are 24-15 and in a tie atop the AL East.
After that, things get even more interesting. The Angels have an off day on May 26 which would be Shoemaker’s next turn to keep the rotation on four days’ rest, but the team could skip him altogether and not affect the rotation at all.
Or, they could give everyone an extra day of rest and Shoemaker would start May 27 at home against the struggling Houston Astros, who’s 17-25 record is the only reason the Angels aren’t in the West cellar.
From there, the month turns into June and Lincecum, Wilson and Heaney may all be close if not ready to start competing to be in the rotation.
Which means Shoemaker has, perhaps, fewer than five starts left to show that he belongs at this level as a starter. If he continues to pitch the way he has to this point, he’ll spend the rest of the season at Triple-A Salt Lake or in the bullpen.
A lot can change in a year and a half. Unfortunately for Shoemaker, his inconsistent performances may have cost him a chance to be a steady part of the Angels rotation.